Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Mayor of London Announces Redevelopment Plans for Nine Elms, Battersea

The Mayor of London has announced plans to redevelop Nine Elms, Battersea and the surrounding area into “a brand new district for the capital”, potentially creating 16,000 new homes and 25,000 new jobs. The regeneration plan includes the creation of green open spaces, a cycle and pedestrian bridge linking Nine Elms with Pimlico and, perhaps most significantly, an extension of the London Underground’s Northern Line to Battersea Power Station.

The plans also propose new pedestrian and cycle networks, better designed homes and communities and a decentralised energy network.

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said:

‘This vision represents the final piece of the jigsaw that completes the central area of London. Although we are currently in a downturn, the area as it stands will, in the coming decades, deliver a substantial number of new homes and new jobs. The regeneration of Vauxhall and Nine Elms now is hugely significant in allowing us to support the economic growth of the whole of the capital, and, with the other major regeneration projects like the Olympic Park and Kings Cross taking shape, the prosperity and the role of our great city in the world is assured.

‘More than that, [this] area...will become a thriving new quarter for living, leisure and business and an easily accessible destination for Londoners and visitors.”

The Mayor acknowledges that the key to the realisation of this regeneration project lies in the relocation of the United States Embassy to Nine Elms, the redevelopment of Battersea Power Station and the success of New Covent Garden Market.

To support the plan, the Mayor has announced that developers involved in the regeneration of Nine Elms will be exempt from paying the Crossrail levy (a charge on central London businesses to help fund construction of a critical London transport link) and will instead be expected to contribute towards construction of the Northern Line extension to Battersea.

Rob Tincknell, the managing director of Treasury Holdings UK, the company that plans to redevelop Battersea Power Station into “London’s cultural hub”, said that he was delighted with the Mayor’s support for the regeneration of the area. Needless to say, we at Hotel Rafayel wholeheartedly echo this view.

The redevelopment of Nine Elms and the surrounding area will bring enormous benefits to all of Battersea and will have a tremendous impact upon the social, economic and cultural life of the area. This is an exciting –indeed, unprecedented—time for Battersea and we are proud to be part of it.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Rejuvenate Mind and Body at the River Wellbeing Spa

The elimination of stress and tension is critical to the improvement and maintenance of overall health and well being. Unfortunately, in today’s hectic world finding the time to unwind and relax has never been harder. At Hotel Rafayel we will meet you more than half way. If you can find the time, we will provide the tools and the space for total mind and body rejuvenation at our River Wellbeing Spa, an integral part of the Rafayel experience.

Located within the hotel, the River Wellbeing Spa has been created by Imelda Burke, the owner of leading London store Content Beauty/Wellbeing, and aims to provide the very best in natural and organic treatments, water therapy and complementary health services, ensuring guests have a total restorative experience.

To quote Imelda: ‘’We are aiming to reposition spa-going as a healing activity, as part of a complete health and wellbeing experience. Treatments such as massage, water therapies, natural skincare, nutritional therapy and exercise need to be redefined as an integral part of a health-conscious lifestyle, with the emphasis on their far-reaching curative effects rather than simply being luxurious indulgences. The River Wellbeing Spa experience is the ultimate refuge from, and antidote to, city life and encourages clients to holiday within the city as a regular part of their total health plan

Created to inspire and guide you to complete physical and emotional health, the River Wellbeing Spa incorporates traditional and modern wellbeing techniques alongside exercise programmes and beauty grooming services. With a core belief that optimal health is the best way to increase vitality, energy and radiance, every River Wellbeing Spa visit starts with the complimentary use of our state of the art gym, water sanctuary, traditional heat and steam therapies and the calming oasis of our relaxation room.

Spa guests can select from spa treatments including moor mud therapy, Thai herbal relaxation massage and facial rejuvenation acupuncture alongside therapeutic spa treatments. River Wellbeing Signature Treatments include bathing rituals, short break detox, stress or weight management wellbeing weekends and jet lag recovery treatments.

Other features include a Monday Wellbeing lecture series, wedding preparation packages, yoga and Qi Quong classes on the river front, summer dawn exercise on the 17th floor roof terrace, crèche facilities for spa and hotel visitors and a room service menu of bathing rituals prepared for guests in the comfort of their hotel room.

So put your worries aside, leave your stress at the door and reconnect with your inner self at the River Wellbeing Spa.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Affordable Art Fair, Battersea – Record Turnout Breaks Through the £100 Million Mark

The Affordable Art Fair (AAF) in Battersea Park comes to a close today with organisers and exhibitors proudly announcing a record number of visitors to the four-day event.

Founded in Battersea Park in 1999 the Affordable Art Fair has become the leading UK showcase for contemporary art under £3,000. Founder Will Ramsay’s aim was to make contemporary art accessible to all. His refreshingly egalitarian approach was an instant hit and the Affordable Art Fair now takes place biannually in London and annually in Bristol, Amsterdam, Paris, Brussels, New York, Singapore, Sydney and Melbourne.

This month marks the Affordable Art Fair’s tenth anniversary -- an appropriate time for the Fair to break through the £100 million sales mark. According to The Guardian, organisers reported a record £500,000 in sales in the first four hours of opening. The high-end art market may be jittery but affordable art appears immune from the credit crunch.

At Hotel Rafayel we are delighted with the success of the Affordable Art Fair; it is good not only for art but also for Battersea and its growing status as London's Left Bank. Art is for everyone! As our hotel is so close to the Fair, we invite those who visit and exhibit at the AAF’s Spring Collection in March to come and view the contemporary art exhibition we will be hosting in our lobby, bar/restaurant and conference rooms.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Rafayel - Battersea's newest art exhibition space welcomes Max Viccardi

Art is much less important than life, but what a poor life without it.”-- So said Robert Motherwell, the late American Abstract Expressionist painter. Few are likely to disagree with such a simple, if not obvious, statement. A world without art is unimaginable and would be intolerable.

Of course what one considers art, and equally what one considers good art, is far too subjective and involved for a blog such as ours. We do know that art has been scientifically proven to have a positive effect on our mental and physical well-being. Corporations understand this. Deutsche Bank has one of the world’s largest modern art collections. Hospitals now regularly install art in hospital wards, for the benefit of patients and staff alike.

At Hotel Rafayel unique works of art, from paintings to sculpture, have been installed in every bedroom and in the communal areas of every floor. We hope that these permanent pieces will add to the general sense of “wellbeing” which we seek to create at the hotel.

At its most powerful art can profoundly shake our beliefs and pose fundamental questions that strike at the very essence of our being. At its mildest, art can make a dreary space cheerful and bring a smile to our face. We don’t have exalted expectations here at Hotel Rafayel. We simply believe that good art nourishes the soul and stimulates the mind and, accordingly, we are committed to supporting deserving artists who reach out to their audience in a life-enhancing manner.

Art divorced from life”, wrote the great thinker Krishnamurti, “has no great significance. When art is separate from our daily living, when there is a gap between our instinctual life and our efforts on canvas, in marble or in words, then art becomes merely an expression of our superficial desire to escape from the reality of what is.

We at Hotel Rafayel are committed to supporting artists and arts that are able to bridge this gap and afford us the opportunity to integrate our life with art and so transform art into an integral expression of ourselves.

To this end we are very proud to announce that Hotel Rafayel will be hosting a series of exhibitions in our bar/restaurant, reception and conference rooms, featuring carefully selected works of art, from pictures to sculpture, contributed by a variety of artists.

The first artist to exhibit at our hotel will be the extraordinary Italian painter/sculptor, Max Viccardi (three of his works are illustrated in this post). Now based in London, Max Viccardi has exhibited in a number of notable galleries, including the GX Gallery and Charlick Gallery. Inspired by the complexity of human relationships and the vast array of emotions that accompany them, Viccardi was influenced most profoundly by Abstract Activism but has since developed his own style, philosophically altering materials into a style that he describes as Asbstract Actualism, with each piece “actualising” a spiritual unconsciousness by articulating emotions in a very physical manner. This spiritual unconsciousness has been defined as a “de-sexualised Eros” and “an undifferentiated ID”. Ultimately it is Viccardi's intention to explore the unconscious emotional forces that underpin spirituality and freedom. We look forward to hosting this fascinating exhibition.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Mychelle's Baketique - Baking goes Bollywood

Do you desire delectable and deliciously decadent desserts? Is your tongue tantalised by temptingly tasty tarts? Are you seduced by scrumptiously succulent sweets? Well, let us introduce you to our Princess of Patisserie and her boutique bakery. Welcome to Mychelle’s Baketique at Hotel Rafayel.

Founded by Michelle Husserl, a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Institute, Mychelle’s Baketique offers a full range of pastries and sweets for any occasion. Located in the lobby of Hotel Rafayel, the Baketique will be an irresistible diversion for anyone who passes its appetising window display.

Imagine tables stacked high with beautifully designed cupcakes decorated in the brightest Bollywood colours. Then imagine a row of delicious ice cream cones....wait, that won’t work. They’d melt. But, no. These are no ordinary ice cream cones. These are Mychelle’s utterly divine ice cream cone cupcakes. They have to be seen (and tasted) to be believed. We think they alone are worth a trip to the hotel!

We could go on and on about the Baketique cupcakes (there are mini cupcakes, gigantic extra large cupcakes....) but this blog would never end.

Needless to say, the list of baked delights that are available is endless and includes Victoria sponges, heart puffs, cookies and much more. Michelle bakes every dessert herself and her creativity, talent and passion can be tasted in every bite. Mychelle’s Baketique will also happily cater to your dietary needs with their tasty gluten free, vegan, organic, fat free, sugar free, and low salt recipes! So no excuses!

Afternoon Tea at Hotel Rafayel will be an important part of our day, and Mychelle’s Baketique will be preparing suitably refined delicacies to ensure that it is always a memorable experience. In addition, the Baketique will offer a gastronomic tasting menu that offers an array of cheeses, meats and wines to tantalise even the most discerning palate.

Hotel Rafayel is motivated by creativity, energy, conscience and individuality. We want this ethos to emanate from all areas of the hotel and we are therefore delighted to have discovered Michelle and her creative vision. The slogan of Mychelle’s Baketique is one to which we subscribe completely: “Peace, Love and Cooking”!

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Battersea Power Station to help ‘fuel’ London’s Left Bank?

Battersea Power Station is an iconic London landmark. The famous cream coloured chimneys, dramatically erupting out of the station’s striking Art Deco brickwork, are as integral to the London skyline as Nelson’s Column or Tower Bridge. But ever since it stopped producing electricity in 1983, the power station has gradually descended into a sorry state of decay.

Proposals for the redevelopment of Europe's largest brick building have come and gone and its future still remains unclear. Today, however, its owners and developers have revealed their £5.5 billion planning application (the biggest in London’s history) to the City of Wandsworth which, the owners hope, will make Battersea Power Station as iconic as the Sydney Opera House or the Guggenheim in Bilbao.

According to The Telegraph, the mixed use development, if approved, will include over 3,000 homes, 1.6m sq ft of offices, 700,000 square feet of shops and restaurants, and a zero-carbon power station and could create 15,000 jobs. The developer’s intention to transform the site into a “cultural hub for London” is in keeping with our own aims here at Hotel Rafayel and, if realised, would further enhance Battersea’s position as “London’s new Left Bank”.

We will be watching with keen interest!

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Wonderful Water

The British love affair with bottled water shows no signs of abating. According to a report by market analyst Datamonitor, UK consumers have increased their consumption of bottled water at the fastest rate in Europe, with growth predicted to continue at 7% a year. Water is calorie and caffeine free and contains no artificial colours – it is good for you and for the environment. Or is it?

Unfortunately, whilst water is undeniably good for you, plastic water bottles take a tremendous toll on the environment, with each bottle taking up to 1,000 years to biodegrade. According to a report by the Earth Policy Institute, more than 10 million barrels of crude oil are used each year to make plastic water bottles. The American National Resources Defense Council reports that about 9,700 tons of carbon dioxide are emitted annually to transport bottled water overseas to California. Alarmingly the Container Recycling Institute claims that over 86% of water bottles are not recycled.

We at Hotel Rafayel are distressed by such statistics and are determined not to contribute to the plastic mountain. We are therefore delighted to announce the installation of the Vivreau purified water system in our hotel, which will eradicate the need for plastic bottles and water delivery and will result in dramatic energy and cost savings. Based on an average weight of a glass bottle and average consumption, the Vivreau system will enable Hotel Rafayel to eliminate a staggering 432 tonnes of delivered bottled water over 5 years and eliminate 205 tonnes of glass bottled waste for disposal. Vivreau is Europe’s leading developer and manufacturer of purified drinking water systems and we are pleased to bring its quality product to our guests.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

"The Most Comfortable Beds in the World"

Named after the Greek god of sleep, and father of Morpheus (the god of dreams), Hypnos has been producing luxury handcrafted beds for over a century and has a reputation for making “the most comfortable beds in the world”. A family-run British business, Hypnos proudly bears the Royal Warrant of HM The Queen and its beds can be found in some of the world’s finest palaces, hotels and homes.

At Hotel Rafayel we treat all our guests like royalty and so we are proud to provide a Hypnos bed in every room. No mass manufacturer can match the quality of these handmade items. Master craftsmen have combined their traditional skills with the latest technology to provide our guests with the ultimate sleep indulgence.

However, no matter how distinguished a company’s clients or how glorious its products, we at Hotel Rafayel expect commitment to an environmentally-friendly philosophy. We take environmental issues seriously and expect the same from our suppliers.

We are therefore delighted that Hypnos provides a revolutionary bed disposal and recycling service that exceeds all environmental objectives, providing a zero landfill and a zero carbon footprint process. Machinery at Hypnos’s certified ‘waste management’ facility shreds and separates materials. The recycled raw materials are used within a range of alternative manufacturing processes - nothing is wasted and nothing ends up in landfill: metal hinges and springs are recycled back into steel products; timber into MDF or wood shavings; foam reused in carpet underlay; textiles recycled into insulation products or briquettes for industrial heating – even the packaging materials from new beds are recycled!

Comfort, quality and conscience. Hypnos is clearly right for Rafayel!

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Tomorrow'sWorld Today

In this digital age we rely on technology to make our daily lives easier and more enjoyable. The average home is brimming with hi-tech wizardry, much of which is regarded as essential to our 21st century lifestyle. Unfortunately, hotels often seem to lag behind the average home, with the latest technological gadgetry taking many years to find its way into hotel rooms and leaving guests frustrated. At Hotel Rafayel we understand this. We know that our guests want to have the same hi-tech access that they can receive at home. It is our goal to meet and exceed those expectations.

Our rooms, all of which have a Philips-designed energy saving lighting scheme and a high efficiency Daikin air-conditioning system, are amongst the most advanced to be found anywhere in the world.

Features which are standard in all rooms include:

* Personal digital frames that can be uploaded with your favourite pictures.

* VDA Micromaster room automation system with touch control glass panels enabling door access, lighting control, air conditioning control, internet room service and housekeeping management

* MediaHub panel fitted to all bedrooms allowing guests to connect their laptop, iPod, MP3, game console, digital camera or DVD player to the in-room TV and audio system

* Flush ceiling speakers to bedrooms and bathrooms to allow audio from TV or personal device connected through MediaHub

* Philips HD 32” Ambilight LCD TVs

* IPTV System with freeview channels, blockbuster movies, radio, TV internet, on-screen newspapers, room service and express checkout.

* In-room video conferencing enabled

* Free broadband and Wi-Fi

* Cordless and speaker phones available via guest services

* Wii, Playstations & games and laptops available via guest services

Whether it be offering you a digital version of any newspaper from around the world, enabling you to speak to family or co-workers via video-conferencing, supplying you with any mobile/cell phone charger you might want, or providing you with the ability to connect your favourite digital media player to your room TV and audio system, we have tried hard to make the hotel experience as easy, pleasurable and convenient as possible.

There is only one downside….you may never want to leave your room!

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Rafayel is Roomy!

As an ecologically aware hotel, Rafayel on the Left Bank is committed to doing as much as it can to help preserve our planet’s environment and its precious resources. But long gone are the days when practitioners of a “green” philosophy had to sacrifice luxury and make do with second best!

We at Rafayel want each and every one of our guests to enjoy the most luxurious, relaxing and decadent stay imaginable. Utilising the latest technology and making full use of our spacious setting, we are able to adhere to our ecological principles whilst delivering 5-star quality and comfort to all of our guests.

Nowhere is this dual doctrine of “conscience “and “quality” more obvious than in our 65 plush bedrooms, all of which feature our bespoke furniture and fittings. London is a city notorious for small hotel rooms. We know all too well that many hotels practice the false economy of trying to increase the number of bedrooms at the expense of room, corridor and lobby size. This is an approach we wholeheartedly reject. Visitors will be struck by the generous width of our corridors and the overall feeling of space that permeates all areas of the hotel.

Rooms at Rafayel on the Left Bank come in one of four spacious sizes:

Big (The Mississippi Rooms) – up to 220 sq ft
Bigger (The Yangtze Rooms) – up to 350 sq ft
Even Bigger (The Amazon Suites) – up to 500 sq ft
Biggest (The Nile Suites) – up to 700 sq ft

Our rooms are open and airy and, graced with full-length windows, are suffused with an abundance of natural daylight. Needless to say, given our magnificent location, high-up on the Battersea riverfront, our rooms afford breathtaking views over this great city.

Our indulgent bathrooms are extremely spacious and feature body-spray showers, with larger rooms equipped with hydrotherapy baths. By harvesting rain water collected from our various terraces we are able to offset such luxury by 6,000 litres of water per day. Rain water is used to grow thousands of new plants on our grounds and it feeds a beautiful fountain that recycles the water. The fountain is notable for its LED low-footprint lighting display. We eventually hope to reinforce these eco-friendly credentials by increasing our rain harvesting capacity to 10,000 litres per day.

But the decadence does not end there! For our rooms are amongst the most technologically-advanced one will find anywhere in London or indeed the world. More about this in our next post.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Rafayel -- The News Spreads!

The blogosphere is already alive with chatter about the forthcoming launch of Rafayel on the Left Bank. Over the past couple of weeks news about our exciting new hotel concept has appeared on several notable websites, including Sleeper Magazine, Big Hospitality,the British Hospitality Association, and Guillaume Thevenot's superb Hotel Blog. The latest website to mention us is Leisure

We are delighted by the interest and enthusiasm we have generated so far. But we have much more still to show! Stay tuned -- this is only the beginning!

Friday, 2 October 2009

Things are coming fact its begining to look like a hotel!

Things are coming along fact it's begining to look like a hotel, for me this is the most rewarding part of the build, things are coming together and those CGI's and my imagination are being made real. More photos next week...